Why Stephen Bohr Wants Male Headship in the Adventist Church

Stephen Bohr's summation of the arguments for women's ordination? "They're based on faulty reasoning, faulty study of Scripture, partial evidence, redefining words, injecting contexts that are not there, and ignoring contexts that are there." That categorical dismissal of ordination equality came on the first night of the Fresno, California pastor's Women's Ordination symposium. In a two-hour marathon lecture, Bohr made the case that male headship is God's way--the right way. Really, the only way forward for the Adventist Church.

The four-day symposium is the work of fifteen headship proponents, many of whom sat on the General Conference Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC). Members of this bloc within TOSC advocate not only denying ordination for women pastors, but also reversing a past GC votes sanctioning the ordination of women elders. While the ostensible goal was "that everyone that is watching is able to understand the presentations that were made at the Theology of Ordination Study Committee," the program description made clear that this symposium would represent only the extremest position from within TOSC.

Bohr offered three reasons for the symposium:

1. A desire to uphold the decisions of the church (presumably with the exception of the GC policy of ordaining women elders).

2. A desire to popularize the materials from TOSC, which Bohr stated without irony would take "hours and hours of arduous reading" (The symposium is scheduled for over 24 total hours of lecture and panel discussion time).

3. The sense that church outlets were not open to headship arguments. "It has been virtually impossible for us to gain a communication outlet where we can share our strongly held view that, although we support women in ministry, we are opposed to the ordination of women to pastoral leadership," Bohr said.

Bohr's lecture sought to simultaneously refute the arguments for ordaining women and to give male headship legs to stand on. With rapid-fire delivery, Bohr listed and disagreed with over twenty arguments in favor of women's ordination. He began by arguing that in all of Scripture, no woman is ever ordained as an elder or pastor of a church. Further, Bohr contended, the preponderance of evidence is that males, not females, were the leaders in both Israel and the early Christian Church.

Deborah and Hulda, two Old Testament examples of strong women leaders, were not leaders at all, Bohr said. Rather, they served in advisory capacities to male leaders whose prerogative it was to accept or reject the women's counsel. King Josiah, not Hulda, was the leader of Israel. The center of the story is the king--he pulled the strings, Bohr said. Bohr compared Ellen White to Hulda, saying that White always insisted that she was not the leader of the Advent Movement. Likewise, Deborah gave counsel to Barak, but it was the man who held the reigns of leadership. Barak was the hero who delivered Israel, Bohr said.

Junia was probably not an apostle, and Phoebe was not ordained by the laying on of hands, Bohr contended. And speaking of the laying on of hands, not every instance equalled ordination. Jesus placed his hands on children and on the sick. "I guess he was ordaining the children and the sick," Bohr joked. He also serious-joked that those who dislike male headship are not going to like God as the head of Christ or Christ as the head of the church.

Proponents of male headship describe themselves as "Complimentarians" and label ordination proponents "Egalitarians." Bohr sought to show that egalitarianism is wrong. Using a body as an analogy, Bohr asked whether a head and a body have an egalitarian relationship, or whether the body ought not submit to the loving authority of the head.

Bohr sprinkled his presentation with references to the Creation Order, which he argued placed man as the servant-leader of the woman. He strongly rejected the idea that the Church should give consideration to society that might consider headship sexist or backward. "Our standard is what the Word of God requires. Should we change our views on marriage and creation? Should we worry about being called obscurantist, fundamentalist? Absolutely not," Bohr said emphatically. The church must risk persecution and ridicule in order to uphold Holy Scripture, he said.

Bohr rejected the notion that Ellen White had ministerial credentials, or that any Adventist women did until recent times. He rejected the idea that Scripture calls for mutual submission between a husband and wife. He denied that male headship is repressive to women or that it was a culturally-specific practice. Headship is not a bad thing, he insisted.

Bohr ridiculed the idea that women feel called to ministry. "We believe that it’s not feelings that tell us whether or not something is according to the Word of God. Success in ministry isn’t a litmus test. The Bible dictates whether we should do it or not."

Throughout, Bohr argued that Scripture demands that elders and overseers must be the husband of one wife, necessarily precluding women from serving in those leadership roles. "There is nothing that would prohibit a woman from being a Bible instructor," Bohr said.

The symposium runs through October 4 with presentations from morning to evening. Live video can be found at the Secrets Unsealed website. An event schedule can be found here.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6293

This is seemingly in direct opposition to the words of our Savior who said:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Trust God.


Jared does a fine job in displaying his bias, one that I share with him. Bohr uses every argument of Rome. the ordination of a messenger of the Gospel is far different than the Arron Priesthood. I have no idea why a woman would want to seek the role, but I have sat at the feet of a woman pastor and have been greatly blessed. This concept of headship in the pulpit is just so much nonsense. Christ not man is the head of the church. I can think of at least ten women who could do a better job than Ted Wilson or for that matter Bohr. Tom Z


I don’t know what others think, but Bohr’s information contained in the statement below would tell me to hang it up and move on to more important issues the world is facing.

“3. The sense that church outlets were not open to headship arguments. “It has been virtually impossible for us to gain a communication outlet where we can share our strongly held view that, although we support women in ministry, we are opposed to the ordination of women to pastoral leadership,” Bohr said.”


Smacks of the age old idea that women are irrational, too tied up in emotion to make good decisions. Women were “hysterical” so men removed their uteruses in a surgery called “hysterectomy”.

Apparently when a man feels called to ministry, their feelings are justified…


I was suspicious since the beginning, that this would not be an exciting but rather a Bohring Sympossum…

  1. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen: “Upholding everything”…, of course… but excluding what the discriminators don’t agree with.

  2. It’s certainly misleading. Are they going to “popularize” both sides, or just their side. Who can tell, eh???

  3. This one is just to impress the naive, using the “Kevin Maneuver”: 'We support …we are opposed to."

That Sympossum appears to be a REBELLION in the Church, against what has already been decided in the past, and against what appears will be decided very soon as well.

I hope Elaine will survive the Sympossum and won’t have a heart problem listening to so much nonsense!!!

@ageis7 @elmer_cupino


If success in ministry were a litmus test, Jesus and Noah were failures. Only 8 people left with Noah, and very few were still with Jesus when He died. The ministerial committee of the local conference would not have aproved.


As usual, Stephen Bohr is right on.


I’ve suffered enough nausea in my life not to deliberately place myself where it would be initiated.

Bohr is absolutely revolting! How can any of his members (and I know many of them) stand to hear his garbled, biased, and arrogant remarks that "it has been impossible for us to gain a communication outlet where we can hare our strongly held view,

The church also refused to hear Ford’s position so they should not be accused of bias. The church doesn’t want anything to disrupt the already unhappy members who are walking out the back door by such
unfounded interpretations at this symposium.

The church also does not recognize the AAF and Spectrum by formally listening to what is presented in those media.


I’m really looking forward to the day that we can just concern ourselves with substantive issues such as love for God and our fellow human beings. These petty squabbles don’t do anything to advance the Gospel message. A great deal of heat generation with practically no light. Quite the accomplishment. There’s a part of me that, simplistically, thinks that for some people possession of a penis is the only determining factor regarding fitness for ministry.
Regarding the suggestion that Noah and Jesus had poor success rates and therefore, we should not consider numbers when determining fitness for ministry strikes me as cynical to the point of absurdity. If you look at from one perspective Noah was the perfect evangelist because at one time every man, woman, and child alive on the planet was saved because of his effectiveness as an evangelist. Jesus upon his ascension had quite a few followers when he left. By various calculations he may have had more than one hundred disciples. That’s a pretty good return averaging more than thirty commitments for each year of his public ministry. I know plenty of pastors who would kill for those kinds of results.


I was thinking Paul said their were 500 still alive.

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At the Association for Adventist Women meeting at Southern October 16 to 18, are they going to just bow to Stephen Bohr’s hateful (Excessive. - webEd) messages about Women?
Are they going to be willing to stand up and call what he is a saying a SIN?
A SIN against the Holy Ghost?


XX and XY. Make a difference in the bedroom but not in the Board Room, or in a Speaker of the House, or setting on the Court Bench, City Council, University President, even Head of State. Headship was only an issue in the Hebrew economy which was build upon type in anticipation of the Man Who Is God to come and dwell among us. Just imagine the accusations of life style of Jesus if the 12 were 6 men and 6 women. one cannot use either the pre-advent or the ministry of Jesus as a basis for headship of a 21st century congregation. Eve was taken from a rib of Adam not a toe. Tom Z


Steve, they can’t pay any attention to the SIN you are talking about because at this time they are heavilly involved in the SIN-POSSUM… :slight_smile:

@ageis7 @elmer_cupino


George and Elmer

Can you imagine Deborah saying to herself. I am Schizophrenic. I am hearing voices in my head. I can’t go with you Barak.


The complaining about the church not being open to their headship arguments is like complaining about the church not being open about pro-slavery arguments. I wouldn’t take them too seriously…how probable would be a step back to something we have already understood as being wrong…


Steve and @elmer_cupino,

Can you imagine Barack saying to the Secret Service, “I am paranoid, I can’t go anywhere WITH you?”…

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Lame argument. He showed that He was not moved by many of the taboos of His culture. He spoke to a Samaritan woman in public.

This isn’t about political positions or the legal profession. Those examples are not relevant to the discussion. This is about the home and the church, not the office or the courtroom.

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So now you have an inside track as to what God considers to be sin? Rather arrogant, if you ask me.

And please cite one hateful remark made by Elder Bohr against women. It doesn’t exist.


Thanks for the article Spectrum. I look forward to more updates.